Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put an emphasis on his defensive game in 2016-17 and the club deployed him in many tough situations all season long, trusting him in that department. Even with successful play without the puck, Nugent-Hopkins may still have more to give.
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan appeared on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer Wednesday and talked about expecting more risk and offensive production from their centre next season.
"I think that, and I told Nuge this at the end of the year, there's more to his game, especially offensively," said McLellan. "He's become such a responsible player, that at times he doesn't take the risk necessary to score. It's OK to be a risky player sometimes. You have teammates that have to cover for you. You can't always be the safe guy, but he's convinced he's going to be a well-rounded player. I respect him for that. He puts every ounce of effort into doing it both ways. I think we can see his defensive skills have really increased and he's played against some tough opponents.
"That said though, we need him to be a little more productive so we're going to encourage him to take a little more risk to try and be a little more productive offensively. Not at the cost of losing a game or anything like that, but mistakes are going to happen and you have teammates that have to cover for you sometimes."
Nugent-Hopkins scored 18 goals and added 25 assists for 43 points in 82 games. His .52 points per game in the regular season was the lowest of his career. He had four assists in 13 playoff games.